Top 10 tips for dating the Dutch
You may have heard that Dutch women are the most beautiful in the world, or that Dutch men are boring. We look behind the rumours on dating the Dutch.
While many foreigners initially find dating in the Netherlands daunting or inaccessible, understanding Dutch mentality can help reduce miscommunicating the ‘flirting' signals as practised in the Netherlands. Of course, similar to elsewhere, online dating in the Netherlands is increasingly becoming the norm as taboos are shed, particularly among older daters. This has changed the Dutch dating game in some respects as 'first dates' are moved to online dating platforms and social media. However, some facts in the Dutch dating game remain true regardless of where you meet new people.
Here are 10 things you should you know before entering the Dutch dating game.
Straight up and open
The Dutch are renowned for being straight-forward in conversation, and little social negativity is attached to asking personal questions or openly stating one's unsolicited opinion in the Netherlands. The Dutch tend to believe it is better to be honest than mislead someone. To the untrained dater it may appear rude or direct but it is a refreshing scene of playing with your cards on the table.
Being successful in the Dutch dating scene can require a level of assertiveness: if you want something, just do it. The Netherlands has less of a dating culture than other countries, for example the US or UK. There are less ‘rules’ about when to call back, kiss or spend the night, and actions are based more on instinct rather than an unwritten play book.
Playing hard-to-get and silly games have little value in the Netherlands but confidence and being to-the-point rank high. Of course, you might get a flat-out rejection but you won't waste your time where it's not appreciated.
Flirting and compliments
The Dutch love efficiency and leading someone on can be a waste of everybody's time. You can find that flirting and small-talk are sometimes dispensed in favour of simply stating one's desire or intentions.
Similarly, in the Netherlands compliments are not given nor received easily and outlandish compliments can be perceived as fake. Relying on the Dutch penchant for modesty and honesty, your compliments should be the same. Forget the sugar-coating – being down-to-earth and direct will earn a lot more points.
While the Dutch are not renowned for being touchy on a first date, direct eye contact is the norm so don't be put off if someone is staring your way. Intimidating or sexy? You decide. Friends also usually kiss three times on the cheek in greeting, and although some strangers may kiss when being introduced to someone through a common friend, a handshake is more common.
Splitting the bill and chivalry
Chivalry has dissipated into the form of fairness. It is not uncommon to split the bill on the first date – right down to the last cent's worth of what you ate. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering you are in the country that gave name to the phrase 'going Dutch' (splitting a bill).
Some say it is unromantic but Dutch relationships pride themselves on equality. Another option is for one person to pay for, say, drinks and the other for movie tickets. Either way, be prepared that a date is not always going to be free ride, nor will free drinks in bars be that forthcoming. However, this does not mean that paying for your date is not appreciated – it's your choice.
The value of equality seeps into many interactions in Dutch dating. Dutch men in general are not renowned for opening doors for women or taking their heavy bags. While Dutch women might like it when men do this, they do not expect it. Such actions aren't seen as an affront to ladies but rather as a sign that Dutch men see them as equals – although some might say this is the unfortunate downside of equality.
Keeping it casual
The Dutch aren't known for dressing to the hilt. Part of this has to do with the prevalent bike culture – have you tried biking in high heels and a mini skirt, through the rain? It also comes down to the Dutch laid-back attitude, which tends to extend to clothes (and makeup), so you may want to take it down a notch if you're used to getting very gussied up for a date. Don't take it personally if your date shows up in sneakers or arrives at a fancy event in jeans.
It's unnerving approaching a group of men or women to strike up a conversation with someone you have your eye on – but such is the dating scene in the Netherlands. Foreigners sometimes feel isolated by the mass social gatherings when going out, but unless you see another way in, you'll just have to brave it and charge – and accept the possible public rejection, or possibly even a group first date.
Some report the Dutch avoid making ‘real' connections with foreigners, making it difficult to get past the first dating hurdle and settle down. You might find it less common to 'label' a relationship or have a talk about the direction of your love affair, even after several months of meeting. Reaching a serious relationship level can take time in the Netherlands because the Dutch can be cautious with letting newcomers in, whether it's a friendship or partnership.
But it's not impossible – many foreigners report happy relationships and marriages with Dutch nationals. Making new Dutch friends or partners may be difficult at first but once break through, you'll find the Dutch can make very loyal friends or partners for life.
Learn more about the Dutch and be open to cultural differences
Would you presume that being called ‘a little fart' is an insult? Do you know the meaning of gezellig? Would you be offended by personal questions? Learning the basics of Dutch culture can do wonders for your love life – and your Dutch life in general.
It's important to be aware of the impact of cultural differences on your relationship. Misunderstandings can easily arise when dating someone new, especially if your different upbringing means that you often take very different things for granted. Try to be patient, relax and don't expect your new partner to act exactly like people back home.
Don't always trust the forums
While expat forums can provide some helpful advice, their dating threads are often the setting for uninhibited (and often unrepresentative) venting: "Dutch women here are rude, arrogant and unfriendly." "The only thing Dutch men have really taken to heart is 'going Dutch'." Resist the temptation and look for more balanced advice elsewhere.
Every person is unique
Would you describe yourself as just another American/Australian/Belgian...? The same applies to the Dutch. The bottom line is that you are dating a person you like, not the country they are from. So keep an open mind and enjoy yourself.
As the Dutch would say: Succes.
Cormac Mac Ruairi / Expatica
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